Saturday 25th March 2017

Creative Learning. 2017.42.

Creative Learning. 2017.42.

My Tuesday posts have been about Education and Schooling since I started the new look blog in January 2015.

I am branching out today to write about what I have learned about being creative. I am educating myself!

In the past I might have given myself a go at some art or some kind of scrapbooking or even some making craft.

I did classes and I liked some of what I learned.

But I learned something about myself. It was that I don’t actually enjoy a formal lesson because as soon as I had them I found my creativity drying up. No-one actually criticised me I guess except myself. I did not measure up to what I thought a product should look like.

Until 2013.

I was enjoying playing with art and craft (an old Infants teacher never forgets doing that with little kids!) with my grandchildren but I felt I needed more. Then I was introduced to a website here and fun challenge called Index Card a Day.

 

Fast forward to 2016 and I discovered another love. Making mandalas. It was a match made in creative heaven. I had bare minimum of a lesson via a book, and got some materials and then I let my creative self take charge.

This is why I now love my creative learning. It is self-paced. I am not afraid of sharing because I already like the process and the product is secondary.

Taking the pressure off has made the world of difference! I can see that this is something that may affect others who are creative in terms of art, music, drama, writing and photography.

Has something like this occurred for you or someone you know?

Denyse.

Joining Kylie Purtell and bloggers here who blog on Tuesdays.

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Post from The Archives. 2017.38.

Post from The Archives. 2017.38.

In 2012 I was blogging in a number of different fields and one was education based. On this occasion I wrote a lengthy post about how I became a teacher in the late 1960s. So much has changed since then, in many cases ‘not for the good.’ Whilst teachers now have to complete at least a Bachelor’s Degree and add a Masters in some cases, there is far less emphasis in the subjects that will be taught and how to teach them. We had to study every one of the subjects and areas of knowledge we would be using in teaching.  The first kids I ever taught would now be in their mid-late 50s. How scary is that!

If you read on, and through the details, I would love to know what your experiences of teachers may have been when you were in primary school.

Denyse.

Joining here with Kylie Purtell and friends for I Blog On Tuesdays.

DENYSE becomes A TEACHER.

I was the first cohort of students to complete the Higher School Certificate in 1967. Once passed, I was then offered a Commonwealth scholarship to the new Macquarie University to do secondary teaching. However, my passion was with the younger children, and I waited my time & received a NSW Education Department Scholarship to study Primary School teaching at Balmain Teachers’ College.

This was the beginning of the biggest population explosion in outer Sydney, and there were a number of teachers’ colleges set up rather quickly after the 1960s to cater for a huge rise in kids who needed teachers! The first year of training was general primary school, and then in second year we could choose  – Infants (mine) Primary or Small Schools (an option only for men, and my husband chose this one when he was at Armidale Teachers’ College)

The scholarship paid me $22 a fortnight, and I signed a bond to teach anywhere in NSW for a period of 3 years after fulfilling training. I attended the full-time training program for 2 years, completing 18 subjects.

We were taught how to teach & these subjects:

english, mathematics, social studies,natural science, writing, reading, physical education, music, drama, speech, spelling, art, craft, listening, library, child behaviour, handwriting, psychology of child development.

We had practical assessments which included:

telling the class of other teacher trainees a ‘story’, showing them a picture & eliciting responses from questions we had carefully planned, demonstrated dancing and gymnastic techniques, made craft objects step by step,

We had 18 examination subjects over 2 weeks at the conclusion of the two years. There had been a series of exams in first year too.

We were placed in four different teaching practice schools where we were supervised by the class teacher, and we were supervised by personnel from the Teachers College. We needed to teach in different class types and schools. I taught Year 3 and Year 2 back at the Primary School I attended. I was also a teacher on Kindergarten in the northern beaches, and a Year 1 in Neutral Bay.

The School I attended for Yrs 5 & 6 and where I returned for 2 ‘pracs’. I got to re-visit in 2011.

We needed to write full lesson plans, and then teach to them, and evaluate them. We needed to mark the work of the students, keep the children under control, and do the other duties expected of the classroom teachers. We were able to write a shorter version of our day book once we were deemed as a pass for practice teaching. The lesson plan books were huge, and each night would involved writing out the entire day, and then getting the lessons ready, and arriving at school in time to let the teacher run an eye over it. There were no stencils as such.

There was a requirement for me, a left-hander, to learn how to write on the blackboard with chalk using only my right hand. Without practice (and I had to do lots) and then passing the practical examination I would not have been allowed to teach. Each teacher-to-be in New South Wales had to score 100% on a spelling test based on Year 5-6 words. We all had to pass a musical ability test of playing an instrument (recorders were very popular) and singing a solo in front of the group and teacher. We had to pass a practical mathematics test with the ‘new and revolutionary’ Cuisenaire Rods as they would form the practical teaching tools in Maths in the Infants Classroom.

After the exams were finished, our results were posted on a board. In the grounds of the teachers’ college. Then another list went up, the schools we had been appointed to. Beforehand I recall a talk given by the NSW Department of Education officers who advised us about superannuation. We were all appointed by the Department of Education anyway, but there was a tiny detail on the super forms. Women got to tick age 55 or age 60 for retirement benefits. I ticked 55. It turned out four years later, as a married woman to another teacher that I was able to “opt out” of super, and to my regret I did.

I was given a teaching post to Barraba. Not in Sydney. Not in the newly formed outer suburbs called as a collective Green Valley. I was going to a Central School – K-12 and it was a good 6 hours from my parents’ home in Sydney, and I was pleased. I was going to a new place, close to where the current BF was working (not the hub) and my parents drove me to Barraba at the end of January 1970, for Miss Simpson to start her teaching career. Firstly we needed to suss out a place for me to live, and on hearing from the school’s deputy that there was a vacancy in a teachers’ share house nearby, I was in! The next day, 27 January 1970 I began paid work as a teacher on a K/1 in the Infants Department.

That is how I became qualified to teach in New South Wales schools run by the Department of Education.

 

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School Kids’ Progress T1. 2017.34.

School Kids’ Progress T1. 2017.34.

Around the middle of first term at school this experienced Primary School teacher/principal (and parent/grandparent) predicts ten things may be true…and they may also be for those first timers, the ones whose kids have just started school. 

Are you ready for this?

ONE: Your child will quote the ‘teacher says’ and be adamant that all the ‘teacher says’ is right.

TWO: Your child will call you by the teacher’s name at least once. Conversely your child will also call the teacher “mummy/daddy” at least once.

THREE: The school uniform items (shoes, hats, jumpers) you lovingly labelled – in laundry marker AND an iron-on label for good measure will still “get lost”.

FOUR: Having spent money on new items as above because “no hat no play,” rules are enforced, the “old” item will miraculously turn up.

FIVE: There will be one week where you will promise your child that he or she can have some money to spend at the canteen and your child will buy something you have never heard of called a “zingy zong healthy treat something” and your child declares it ‘best food ever.’

SIX: The school newsletter will have news about how well the new children have settled into their new routine at ‘big’ school and you think ‘erm, but I have noticed’ at least one child crying as they are led by the hand into class each day. Life at school.

SEVEN: You are glad to know this is not your child -this time! You also feel a great deal of empathy for the new K/P kids and their teachers as settling into something as new as school is hard – for everyone!

EIGHT: The school will send home a note about a mufti-day to raise funds for a special cause and somehow, along the communication route, you forgot and your child arrives in school uniform that day…but luckily her/his sibling is in the car and of a similar size so a ‘quick change’ occurs leaving a puzzled sibling wondering if he or she is going to school now too.

NINE: You are just beginning to realise why school is good for the kids when you see how much time you have for all the things you want to do …. this is a cheeky point…just seeing if you are reading LOL.

TEN: You will look closely at your Kinder/Prep child’s face as you kiss him/her goodnight  and wonder, “where did my little one go? I now have a school kid!”

So half-way(ish) through Term One, congratulate yourselves parents! You are getting there…right?

Tell me how it’s going with your school-age children? High school too!

Denyse.

Linking with almost seasoned school mum Kylie Purtell here for I Blog on Tuesdays.

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When You Know You KNOW. 2017.30.

When You Know You KNOW. 2017.30.

It is said that ‘when you know…you know.’ Do you agree?

I could apply it to some life choices I’ve made, including the acceptance of my now husband’s proposal.

Sometimes it can be applied to finishing up…leaving..stopping…whatever life is bringing you.

For me, the time I knew what I knew was here:

More than a year prior to when this photo was taken, I had retired from my University tutor/marker role. I still continued to have my small consultancy to pre-schools open but it too was brought to a halt thanks to the distance from the workplace and where we now lived but I also knew it was time. I loved continuing with teacher development  as an External Observer with NSW Board of Studies in 2015, however, changes to the structure there meant that my qualifications no longer met the new standards and that worked well for me to say goodbye.

There was ONE more professional role I enjoyed. It did not pay me, nor would I want it too. It was, however, a wonderful place and space in which to share my experiences and be part of a highly engaged professional community. This is via meetings called Teach Meets. And it was to be held back in Sydney’s Northern Beaches at my old High School! Of course I wanted to speak..and have a last look around my ‘old school’ from the 1960s!!

This post tells much more about the talk I gave that evening.

But, something within in me KNEW that this would be the last time I would be involved in any paid/volunteer role in education and I felt both glad and sad. However, I KNEW it was what I knew and I was so pleased to have made the choice for myself.

Here. Where I went to High School from age 12-17. Where I had decided to become a teacher if my HSC results were good enough. They were.

Manly Girls High School in my day..now a Senior School for Yrs 11 & 12 on Northern Beaches

It was the right choice! Both to start…and to stop..here!

1962. First cohort for the ‘new’ Wyndham Scheme HS kids. 6 years of HS. I am second from left 3rd row.

Some parts of the school were unchanged since I left in 1967.

I loved having a personalised tour from the Principal of my ‘old school’. Much had changed, but this view had not. From the ‘canteen’ area.

Giving my final talk as part of Teach Meet in August 2015. I have no regrets. I have an amazing number of memories. I also remain in touch with educators via social media and continued to enjoy the conversations but I am glad to no longer have any professional responsibilities.

Last time for this!

I’m a great believer in knowing when to go!

Are you?

What decisions did you make because you ‘knew’?

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie Purtell here and the bloggers who Blog On Tuesdays.

 

 

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What Works Best For You? 2017.26.

What Works Best For You? 2017.26.

Everyone has some ideas for that work best for them.

In terms of being a school parent and being organised for what school terms bring I wondered what works best for you!

This is the Morning Routine version of what worked for me. Back in the 1980s and 90s.

I was a school parent well before the internet and daily access to schools and newsletters and the like. However, I always had a fridge calendar and a space for notes there too. I kept our family calendar updated with school and extra curricular items such as sport and group events listed.

I added meeting days where I would be late home, necessitating other arrangements for school pick up and when there were to be meetings at the kids’ schools such as ‘meet the teacher.’

I would love to have readers share.

My list that worked best for me included:

  • I made sure I was up before the kids…just for my sanity…and I could get in some breakfast too before waking the darlings.
  • kids did not get dressed until they ate their breakfast and there were limited choices: cereal and toast.
  • TV never went on in the mornings. Ever. It was hard enough getting kids to stay on track. At least there were no electronic devices back then.
  • school clothes (including mine, because I was a teacher going off to school too!) ready the night before and laid out, with socks & shoes so there were no delays in finding said items!
  • checking of the weather report the night before (and the morning) so that we were prepared for rain/heat whatever Australia’s changing weather systems had on offer.
  • school bags emptied the night before (or on the weekend, the Friday for preference!) so that filling was easy in the mornings. Actually not fully emptied. I was the person who made her kids always have a folded up raincoat lying in the bottom of the school bag.
  • lunches were made in advance and in my case, kids and mine were made in batches and frozen.Boring same ingredients and sometimes not eaten but they were ready to pop into lunch boxes.
  • a snack self-selection area in the pantry with a guide for how many and from which group to add to lunchbox.
  • frozen water bottles grabbed from the freezer and wrapped in a towel – it helped with insulation and a cooling thing on the very hot days anyway.

  • library bag at the ready if it was library day.
  • school hat either next to the bag OR kept in the car as the kids would be dropped off from the car.
  • homework folders/books ready to be returned on the day as requested by the teacher.
  • notes signed, money added (if needed) and put in a plastic zip bag because for sure, these items get messed up in kids’ bags.
  • everyone in the car, buckled up allowing for the school drop offs and for me to be at school on time!

So, I used to look forward to getting to school….for the break and a coffee after all that above..and then up to my classroom to be ready for teaching everyone else’s kids!

What works for you in the mornings before school?

Do tell me in the comments!

Denyse.

Joining new school mum, Kylie Purtell here with my other blogging friends for I Blog On Tuesdays.

 

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Meditations for Back to School. 2017.22.

Meditations for Back to School. 2017.22.

I wonder what you thought when you saw this title?

In fact it IS about meditation and it IS for kids…yes!

From my experience of the past two years, meditation is helpful. I use it for helping me stay in the moment more and for being mindful. I’ve written about it here.

More and more though, it is found that a few minutes of meditation, slowing down to focus on the ‘here and now’ and the breath is an excellent strategy for us all. It is not about clearing the mind nor about going to sleep.

Smiling Mind is an Australian-based company producing apps and meditations on-line. The app is free. I have used this app a few times. I like the Australian accent too. Here’s the link to Smiling Mind to find out more.

What caught my eye recently from the ABC in Australia is this:

Meditations for Back to School.*

There are meditations for kids and teachers. I tried the kid one and that’s why I am sharing it here. I would suggest having a go with your children.

I would also try it with a class if I was still teaching!

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-TnQWp8VBwqQ/UePpQ7YiMWI/AAAAAAAAArw/StA8xwN1J7A/s1600/meditation+for+children.jpg

 

Here from ABC and Smiling Mind. From their website:

Our vision is to see mindfulness meditation on the Australian National Curriculum by 2020.

This hopeful statement from the Dalai Lama provides food for thought.

*Not a sponsored post..I just like to share what I think is helpful for families and education.

Have you tried meditation?

Do your children meditate?

Tell me more!

Denyse.

 

 

 

 

 

It is I Blog On Tuesday time I. B. O.T! Joining Kylie Purtell and the crew who blog on Tuesdays here.

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Hot Topic In Education NOW. 2017.18.

Hot Topic In Education NOW. 2017.18.

I am hot under the collar…and I don’t even wear a collar!

I am hot because I am feeling mad about what is going on in education around Australia right now.

This is not even about the HOT weather and how not all schools have air con!

I am HOT because I am an advocate of schooling and education, particularly in terms of equity but what is making me mad (and hot!) is this topic.

T E S T I N G.

We in Australia are going to follow a UK path for assessment kids aged between 5 and 7. The second year of formal schooling.

Here’s what was said in UK in 2012. Its points are many but what bothers me is the ‘stupid’ way in which nonsense words form the test. Kids who are reading and beginning to understand reading hesitate over words which DO.NOT.MAKE.SENSE.

Here’s a news report from media based on current Australian Minister for Education Simon Birmingham’s decision to get this testing procedure implemented. It is not factual as the Principal of Merrylands East PS, John Goh knows, when I tweeted to @birmo yesterday this:

DenyseWhelanBlogs @DenyseWhelan1

@johnqgoh @Birmo on news BIG talk of #phonics as if never been taught as part of a rich literacy experience. Who does your press releases?

There has been more said about this in many areas but do  not be fooled. The Governments in Australia hold this type of testing as a carrot and stick. The Labour government started some time ago aligning the results of NAPLAN to tied funding to the states. It is not, as far as I can see, funding to support the specifics of the findings, it is about compliance.

I remain more heated than I probably need to be as a retired educator who served kids of NSW Public Schools but it’s because I am passionate and someone who specialised in early childhood learning that I have to speak up.

I apologise for the ranty type of post here but I, along with many of my colleagues in teaching around Australia are fuming about the notion that LITTLE kids need a standardised test like the one being planned. If you are a teacher or know teachers, you will be aware that they actually KNOW which kids are not doing well. They have skills and experience. What is needed is F U N D I N G to continue to help these identified children to have greater opportunity to learn and grow. But no, the Australian government is planning to P A Y organisations to  T E S T  all of the kids their second year of formal schooling rather than look at what schools could already tell them.

My former consultancy role as an education specialist for families. Now retired.

What’s your view on this latest idea (which will happen) for national testing?

Do you have a child who would be taking part in this?

Are you aware that teaching phonics in isolation with no  meaning (context)  to help a child understand what is read?

But phonemic awareness is another skill. More about that here.

Did you know we learn to read in a variety of ways?

THIS appeared in my FB stream and is too good not to share and ADD!

Source: https://www.facebook.com/authorchrisriddell/

Have I asked enough questions? YES!!

P.S. If your child returned to school this week, I hope it was a good day!

 

Denyse.

Joining Kylie Purtell and friends here for I Blog On Tuesdays.

 

 

 

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Starting School in 2017. 2017.14.

Starting School in 2017. 2017.14.

Starting school is huge for everyone concerned. Maybe you remember your first day at school. I do, and I was confident enough to go straight into the Kindergarten classroom leaving Mum behind. It is not always like this however, it can be with less anxiety if some steps of preparation are taken.

I have written about it before  here.

In 2014 I was asked to contribute to an article by friend and writer, Donna Webeck,  which of course I did. Reviewing it today,  it holds true for 2017. I hope it can be of help for you and your child who may be starting school this year.

I have highlighted the sections where Donna quoted me, along with 2 others, for the article. Here they are:

Talk to the teachers*
School teachers have lived through many “first days”, so if anyone will have an insight into what will work best for parents and children starting school solo it is they.
With her vast experience, Whelan has seen it all. The good news? Your child won’t truly be as alone as you fear.
“This child will not be the only ‘solo’ child starting school I can state that unequivocally,” she reassures.
“What a school that is looking out for every child’s needs on day one will do is to ‘notice’ every child. Not always in a direct and over-the-top kind of way because teachers are long-experienced observers,” Whelan explains. They will also ensure socialising starts via introductions between children as well as settle children into small groups.
“There will be less than a day for your child to have had someone to sit next to, share a game with or go to the toilet. They may not be called ‘friends’ yet anyway, but your child will not be alone.

There is also this:

Keep your own emotions in check
Often children who are nervous about starting school sans friends feel this way because they are feeding off their parent’s anxieties.
“Monitor your own stress levels,” warns Hirst. “Children can pick up on how you are feeling so try to talk positively about school.” Whelan couldn’t agree more, commenting that fear can be contagious. “I am of the belief that our kids can catch our emotions and I would be keeping mine in check – as best I could!”
She also mentions that unless we make a fuss, the child will not know there is something for them to worry about. “To be honest, a young child has no real concept of starting school and being alone or knowing no-one unless his parents, caregivers or others have made a big deal of it.”
Spicer asks you to think long term, because promoting positive emotions will do you a favour down the track. “Research shows if kids start out enjoying school early on it’s more likely they will enjoy it ongoing.”
The final word on coping goes to Whelan, who wants to reassure this: “I can’t quantify how they cope but I do believe it’s part of our parenting role to see that they can be left to manage themselves,” she says.”We’ve  grown these little people to be people. It’s about taking more steps away from us, just as we did and our parents let us do.”

*added now: I do not mean ‘talk to the teacher in depth’ every single morning and afternoon unless there is a real issue of concern but just a conversational ‘hi’ and ‘how are things?’ is fine and reassuring in first week or so. Believe me, don’t even think of asking as the teacher is attempting to bring the class to the room or on the way out…it’s tricky I know because you want to know…but observe for a bit is my advice! Make a proper interview time for any real and on-going issues. Please! 

So, what are your memories of starting school?

Do you have someone starting school in 2017?

How will it be for you and your child?

And ICYMI (in case you missed it, in 2016 I wrote about Starting High School!)

I would love to hear your stories in the comments!

Denyse.

Joining Kylie Purtell for IBOT here and she DOES have a school starter in her family and I know there will be mixed emotions next week in her household.

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